Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Favorite Phone Apps

You probably use your phone more each year. And not for making phone calls, but for all the other cool stuff it can do.

I upgraded phones this year and while I've been trying to keep it simple, I'm also looking for some awesome apps. So let's share. I'll tell you my favorite apps, and maybe one of them will also work out for you. Then you tell me your favorite apps.

I use email and Facebook apps the most on my phone. After that,

1. Foreign Languages--this is my game! I am working on improving my Portuguese with DuoLingo. I've wanted to learn Chinese for a few years (since Chinese will eventually overtake the world, in my opinion). I bought a couple books years ago, but that didn't work. But this Hello Chinese app has been terrific. It promises, "10 minutes a day, fluent in 3 months." I don't quite buy that, but I've actually learned some Chinese. And maybe someday I'll get to go check out caves in China and use it. And then Desert Girl decided she wanted to learn French, so she's using Memrise for that and I'm using DuoLingo so I can support her.

2. Reading. I prefer real books most of the time, but the ability for a phone to store lots of books and the speed with which to get them is great. I absolutely love using Overdrive. You find your local library on it and put in your library card and can check out e-books and audiobooks for free. Different libraries have different options (my brother in the city has more than us, but we still have hundreds to choose from). I also use Kindle a lot (you can read your Overdrive books on it). And although I no longer subscribe to Audible, we still have a few books that we bought on sale that we haven't had time to listen to.

3. Photos. If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know I like to take photos. To look at photos, I just use the simple Google photos app. But Snapseed has some really cool editing tools on it. I also have PhotoPills, but haven't really taken the time to learn it.

4. News--I need help here! I feel that most U.S. news is so slanted either right or left that I'm not really getting the facts. I use BBC News and it's okay. But mostly I don't read or watch the news.

5. Maps. I use a variety of map apps. When I want to keep track of my runs, Map My Run is great (as long as I don't get in a hurry to get it started, as it will usually pop up an extra query and not start until I okay it.). We love Geocaching, and have started doing it again because the app is free (it was $20 not so long ago). US Topo Maps has great topo maps. I've been using the Free version, which only lets you have three waypoints. I've been considering paying the $11.99 to basically turn my phone into a full-fledged GPS unit. Thoughts?

6. Other. My most expensive app is iBird Pro, which has not only photos and descriptions but also songs of all the birds. It's super easy to pull up, especially when I forget my bird book. I like Podcasts, but haven't found an aggregator that's intuitive. When I travel (especially on airplanes), I want to watch my Amazon Prime downloaded movies. The only way I've found to do that is with the Amazon prime app.

7. I use Android, but if you have an iPhone, I highly recommend apps from Chimp Studios. My brother is the owner and has made some awesome apps (click the image below to get to his website).

Now, for the big question, what apps do you use most? I have a feeling that I might have a life-changing experience trying out what you like best!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Local Happenings aka A Rather Random Post

 Some of these photos are a little older. (Or maybe a lot older, but who's counting? :) After the fair, we had one sheep left. Sheep are social, so it followed us (and the dog) around everywhere. Including to the swimming hole!

The kids painted some rocks and found some rocks around town.

It's always a fun surprise.

Every once in awhile you should take time for a tea party. Holding your pinky out is optional.

While it was warmer, we played soccer at the playground. Actually the "we" didn't include me, but I enjoyed watching. Maybe next year I'll work up the guts to get out there and give it a try!

Desert Girl is still working on being an animal trainer. Here was some success getting Maggie to go down the slide.

One evening I was in search of sandhill cranes. I found the cows creating quite a lot of dust.

I eventually found the sandhill cranes. Such cool looking birds!

When they took flight I was lucky to get them backlit. What beauty!

Meanwhile, the cows were curious and coming to see what I was doing.

And just playing around.

Here's a fun fact. Baker Ranch provides the hay for the National Finals Rodeo. The horses, bulls, and other animals get some delicious high desert hay. 

These cows are eating a mixture of feed grown on Baker Ranch.

As you've seen, this is very much a rambling post. So why not include Desert Girl's fish imitation?

Along with her drawing of fish. She also wants to be a marine biologist.

One day, Desert Girl and I took a trip to Garnet Hill near Ely, Nevada. Desert Girl was ready with a hammer to find some garnets.

I was fascinated watching the huge mine trucks on the next mountain. The mine trucks look tiny, which tell you how big the mine is.

It's been a busy year for our volunteer fire department. This day was someone burning brush that got out of control.

Fortunately it wasn't too windy, and the fire didn't spread much.

Each year the local school kids do a Wheel-a-thon as a fundraiser. The younger kids (grades K-2) ride eight miles, and the older kids (grades 3-6) ride sixteen miles.

This year, local law enforcement from four jurisdictions came out and did some educational activities. I think they also enjoyed sharing stories.

And here's one of our super bus drivers, Carrie. She followed the kids at the Wheel-a-thon. And she takes Desert Girl to school every day. It is great to see her smiling face every day!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2017 Turkey Shoot

 If it's November, it's time for the annual Turkey Shoot! This year the proceeds went to the local fire and EMS department. The night before, many gathered for the school Harvest Festival for a potluck dinner and auction (with a fitting centerpiece, above--I just had to find a way to use this photo!).

The next morning we woke up and headed down to the shooting range. Here are some kids on top of the archery target.

They were ready, so they got to go first. Desert Boy and Desert Girl hadn't practiced much, and it showed.

Here's the star.

And where her arrows landed. Nice work!

Maybe next year they will practice more. Oh, yeah, I can keep dreaming, can't I?

Next was the .22 rifle contest at 25 yards, shooting at a chicken target. Three shots. The first guy made the chicken swing three times. Then I went and I did too. A few more went and one more person also got three hits. That meant it was time for a shoot-off! We had to do it off-hand (standing up), so we wouldn't be at it forever. Still, it took awhile, with three rounds. And I finally ended up the winner! Woohoo, a turkey in our fridge!

The kids did pellet gun. It's not too accurate, or maybe they need to practice more. Hmm, I sense a theme here.

Desert Girl was more interested in playing with her friends than shooting, but she still gave it a try. The kids got cornish hens for their efforts, and they tasted delicious.

Along with the various contests there was a raffle, with great prizes from local merchants.

 It was a beautiful day with a good turnout. We ate delicious elk chili for lunch.

The contests continued, and although I scored well in a couple of them, there were numerous people who got every shot in the inner black. There are some good shooters out here! My husband also won a turkey, so we'll be eating well!

 Here are some memories from the Turkey Shoot in 2013, 2014, and 2016. It will be held again next November, either the second or third Saturday of the month. Check the Snake Valley Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page in October for the exact date.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Unicorn Trails

 While my brother was here, I knew we had to take him out on the Unicorn Trails. These are newly discovered trails on the ranch. The story is already confused. My story is that I called them the Horse Trails, but that Desert Girl called them the Unicorn Trails and I immediately saw the brilliancy of that name. Desert Girl's story is that her mother is crazy and came up with the name all on her own.

Anyway, the trails are made by my mother-in-law's horses. I realized after our trip to Moab that they would be a great place to practice single track. So far the kids have been a little less than enthusiastic. Fortunately, Desert Girl has realized that this is a way to go visit the unicorns (ahem, horses).

She's a horse lover, so doesn't mind an excuse for more time with them.

Maggie had to get kicked a couple of times, but she eventually learned how to get along with the horses.

And then the unicorn appeared! The horn just blends in with the clouds. Really. Or maybe you can only see the horn if you believe.

We continued through a more difficult section of the Unicorn Trails.

It resulted in a spectacular leap. Wearing zebra leggings definitely helps.

On the way home we had a slight detour. We've been waiting for our swimming hole to dry out so we can turn it into our version of the OK Corral and bike up and down short obstacles. We can ride part of it now.
It's fun to have nearby trails to explore! I'm hoping we will get out more on our bikes, although if winter eventually comes, we might have to postpone that a bit. Nevertheless, we can keep dreaming about the Unicorn Trails and what we might find there.
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